The SmarK Rant for Survivor Series 2003
– Just to put things in perspective for this show, I was the only person to show up at my friend’s place to actually watch this one. And usually there’s 6-8 people there.
– Live from Dallas, TX.
– Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz.
– Opening match: John Cena, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly v. Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan & A-Train.
Holly attacks Brock and gets DQ’d right off the bat. Bradshaw gets the honorary “pin with a clothesline” on A-Train (okay, it’s a lariat, but still…) at 0:44 after Train misses a charge. Show comes in and chokeslams him at 1:03. This is like a RAW match or something. Cena comes in and tries an F-U on Show as things slow down a bit, and Lesnar pounds on Cena in the corner. Brock misses a charge and Cena can’t overpower him, so he clips him instead. Cena slugs away and gets a rollup for two. Another one gets two. Brock powers him down with a clothesline and he gets taken to the heel corner, as Morgan comes in with a headbutt and slugs him down. Legdrop misses, but he gets a sideslam to complete the Nash Generic Moveset, bringing in Nathan Jones. Oh, joy. Nathan slugs him down with knees and yells a lot. Brock pounds him down, but Cena comes back with the Throwback for two. Benoit comes in and pounds Lesnar with chops and powers him down. Man, they’re gonna have a hell of a PPV main event if they ever let them. Brock hotshots him and gets a lariat, but opts to tag Show in instead of going for the pin. It’s SURVIVOR SERIES. A clothesline is a deadly move! Show presses him and talks a lot. Chokeslam, but Benoit reverses to the crossface, which Brock immediately breaks up. Show goes to an abdominal stretch. The size difference really makes that look like a silly visual. Show does his goofy legdrop for two. The heels engage in shenanigans behind the ref’s back, and it’s a brawl outside, Katie bar the door. Back in, Morgan tags back in but misses a big boot and gets his knee dropkicked. Benoit kicks him in the face and Angle comes in with a german suplex series on Morgan (welcome to the WWE, check your vertebrae at the door) and holds off Jones and Brock with more suplexes. Heel miscommunication sees Jones booting Morgan by mistake (and slipping and falling on his ass) and the Angle slam gets rid of ½ of the dead weight at 9:21, as Morgan is gone. More miscommunication disposes of Jones at 9:46 via anklelock. Brock destroys Kurt with the F5 at 10:01, before the announcement can even be made. Well, short night for Kurt, but it’s understandable. Brock goes after Benoit and misses a charge, so Benoit works on the arm and whips him around the ring, but runs into an elbow in the corner. Brock goes for the F5, but Benoit counters into the crossface, but Brock rolls him over for two. Benoit is having none of that, and locks it back in again. Brock makes the ropes. Brock charges, but gets caught with another one, and this time he taps at 12:07. We’ll see if it means anything in the long run. (2011 Scott sez: Nope.) So Show is left 2-on-1 and he slugs away on Benoit, but misses a clumsy charge and Benoit nails him with a flying shoulderblock from the top, for two. He tries a crossface on Show, but he’s too big. Cena gets tagged in by accident, as Show chokeslams Benoit, but Cena bops him with the chain and FUs him for the pin at 13:30 to finish. Felt really rushed and most of the heel team dragged it down, as did the limited involvement of Kurt Angle. **1/2
– Meanwhile, Vince bumps into Shane and has a bizarre laugh-off with Austin.
Women’s title: Molly Holly v. Lita.
They reverse of a go-behind to start and Lita takes her down for two and gets a monkey-flip. They head out and Molly gets sent into the apron, which gets two for Lita. Suplex and she goes for a flying headscissors, but Molly dumps her to the floor and sends her into the railing on a nice bump. Back in, Molly gets two. Neckbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock and Lita fights out, but Molly switches to a dragon sleeper, giving a choice view of the cleavage. Lita knees out of it, so Molly pounds her down again to set up the handspring elbow, which prompts JR to bring up the Great Muta. Who’d have thunk that Muta’s name would get mentioned on WWE programming on a semi-regular basis? (2011 Scott sez: They should bring him in to book and wrestle, too. Yeah, he can’t speak English, but lack of language skills doesn’t seem to be an impediment to writing RAW these days.) Lita goes up with a sloppy high cross, for two. Lita does some ludicrously weak punches in the corner and gets a rollup for two, but she walks into a sideslam for two. Molly tries her own punches, but Lita powerbombs her out of the corner. Well, that’s what happens when you trash-talk. Lita fights back with an awkward Russian legsweep and goes up for the Litasault, which misses. Molly Go Round hits, but only gets two. Molly exposes a turnbuckle, sends Lita into it, and that’s enough to finish at 6:49. All’s fair in love and Christmas sales. Molly did her best with what she was given. *1/2 The thing with Lita that sets her apart from the rest of the fairly-good women’s division right now is this, and this will probably sound obvious but bear with me: With everyone else, they do what they can do, and don’t do what they can’t do. Trish Stratus discovered her talent for gymnastic moves and high kicks, so that’s what she does. Gail Kim was limited to a few moves, so they made her a heel and stuck her on the apron where she could come in for a hit-and-run attack. But here you have Lita, who throws terrible punches (I mean, horrible, god-awful, Billy Gunn with a limp wrist punches) and stumbles through basic moves while on the comeback, and it makes her look bush-league because her comebacks are based on these terrible punches she’s never learned to throw. What she needs to go super-basic and relearn the in-ring aspect. For instance, she has GREAT, athletic legs, and she never uses them. She should be out there kicking the shit out of the other girls with high kicks like Trish does or learning more martial-arts oriented offense so she can bring attention to her legs rather than her weak punches. Trish can’t punch, so she doesn’t. Neither should Lita. If she did just that, eliminating the worst part of her offense and replacing it with a basic striking offense that’s easier to learn and more visually impressive, she would look like a better worker immediately and not like a 4th grader in a school play with high-schoolers. But maybe that’s just me. (2011 Scott sez: As it turns out, she discovered her true talent was fucking over Matt Hardy and showing her awesome rack off, and she ended up as a main event draw with Edge as a result. Go with what you know!)
– Ambulance Match: Shane McMahon v. Kane.
Shane charges him to start and they tumble out of the ring, and Shane meets the stairs. Kane takes a run at him with the stairs, but Shane retaliates with a STEEL chair and pounds him down. Ever notice that every metallic object in wrestling, no matter what it might actually consist of, seems to be steel? Steel railing, steel post, steel chair, steel shovel…etc. Why not vary the atomic table a bit and have a titanium post, or a cobalt railing? Kane gets put on the table and Shane drops the big elbow to break it. They wander to the back and the camera cuts out (glitch #1), but another one cuts in as Shane runs away from Kane and then sneaks up on him with a kendo stick, with which he inflicts some damage. Then, for laughs, he runs him over with an SUV. Obviously we’ve been desensitized to cartoon violence, because that probably wouldn’t even get a two-count if pinfalls counted. Shane barks “send it” into a walkie-talkie that appears out of nowhere (was he just carrying one, just in case?) and an ambulance (but not THE ambulance) appears, which Shane is unable to herd Kane into. The camera cuts out again (glitch #2) and we switch to another one as the director informs us that he’s at the end of his rope via some stolen audio (glitch #3) as they keep fighting back into the arena again, where we’re at least fairly assured of the cameras remaining on the air. Kane tosses him into the ambulance (but is it a STEEL ambulance?) as Shane takes some silly bumps and then comes back to ram Kane into it in turn. It’s fiberglass, guys, quit being pussies. Shane rams the back door into Kane’s head a couple of times, which at least could plausibly hurt. Kane won’t go down, however, and boots Shane down. Kane shoves him in, but can’t close the door. Shane fights back, misses what was supposed to be a hurricane DDT off the ambulance, and then repeats the spot. Sigh. That’s the thing with non-wrestlers like Shane – if they blow something, they’re such slaves to the script that they can’t really make it up as they go along. Shane cans him down and climbs the ambulance, but misses a dive and lands on a conveniently placed crash pad. But was it a STEEL cardboard box? I mean, come on, a CRASH PAD? Apparently it was supposed to be a Van Terminator, but when you’re trying a Van Terminator off an ambulance onto a crash pad, it looks just a BIT contrived. They fight over the ambulance and Kane tosses him around a bit more and piledrives him on the concrete to put everyone out of their misery at13:29. This was about 10 minutes too long for what they were trying to accomplish. ½*
– Meanwhile, Brock bumps into Goldberg.
– The Coach comes out and makes fun of Mark Cuban in the front row, prompting a verbal showdown in the ring between Cuban and Eric Bischoff, but Randy Orton comes in and delivers an RKO to him, which Cuban sells better than half the roster. Honest. Total waste of PPV time, regardless.
– Meanwhile, Evolution parties with hookers. I’m sure Steph appreciates that.
– Smackdown tag titles: The Basham Brothers v. Los Guerreros.
The Guerreros clean house to start, and Chavo elbows down Danny. Eddie comes in and stomps away in the corner, setting up the rolling verticals for two. Chavo gets a seated dropkick for two. Eddie slingshots in for two. Double headscissors on the Bashams, but they get a double-hotshot to take over on him. This is apparently a “classic Bashams double-team” according to Cole. They’ve been around for long enough to have a classic double-team? (2011 Scott sez: VINTAGE BASHAMS!) Eddie gets harassed outside the ring, and back in Doug gets two. Double slingshot suplex gets two. Good double-team move. Doug hits the chinlock, but Eddie escapes with a headscissors, allowing the hot tag to Chavo. He cleans house with the usual generic babyface stuff and a sideslam gets two. Bashams fire back with a flapjack on him, but Eddie breaks up a double-powerbomb attempt and brings Doug down with a rana from the top for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Eddie gets dumped, leaving Chavo to fend for himself with a double-clothesline. The Bashams do the switcheroo as Chavo goes after Shaniqua and Eddie frog splashes her, and they spank her. Is this really necessary? The Bashams attack again, but Chavo kicks Eddie by mistake, the Bashams switch again, and Danny pins Chavo with a rollup at 7:32. Turned into a big mess at the end, and the stuff with Shaniqua wasn’t necessary. ** (2011 Scott sez: They really flushed away whatever Doug Basham could have brought to the table. Danny not so much, but Doug had something special in OVW.)
– Booker T, Bubba Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels v. Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, Chris Jericho, Christian & Randy Orton.
The teams don’t even get separate entrances, and poor Booker T doesn’t even get an introduction, period! JR rambles about Fabio and giving “mad props” making people stale characters. If ANYONE shouldn’t talk about being stale, it’s that announce team. D-Von & Christian exchange headlocks as JR desperately tries to get “CLB” over again. (2011 Scott sez: Creepy Little Bastard is trending worldwide on Twitter!) D-Von slugs away on the mat and gets a clothesline for two. Man, again someone kicks out of a clothesline. What kind of Survivor Series is this? Where’s Ted Dibiase to pin guys with his feet on the ropes when you need him? RVD comes in with a spinkick for two, but Jericho dropkicks him and slugs away. Rob mulekicks him and pounds away in the corner, into a northern lights suplex for two. Jericho gets the enzuigiri for two. Steiner comes in and pounds him in the corner, but Rob spinkicks him for two. Another one misses and Steiner uses the banned overhead suplex (which JR specifically calls dangerous, usually a giveaway), and a belly-to-belly gets two. (2011 Scott sez: Whatever happened to that suplex ban, I wonder?) He charges and misses, but Rob goes up and gets crotched, allowing Steiner to get an overhead superplex for two. Booker tags in, however, and slugs away on Steiner, but gets elbowed down. Booker comes back with the axe kick and decides to Spinarooni. Spinebuster on Steiner gets two, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Steiner gets the Recliner, but the Dudleyz break it up with a double-team neckbreaker and the Bookend finishes Steiner at 7:28. Henry bodyslams Booker for the pin at 7:53. Poor Booker gets to job in Texas again. Henry overpowers RVD with a clothesline but Bubba tags in and slugs away, but can’t overpower Henry. Well, duh. Henry chokes him out. Henry whips him around and overpowers both Dudley Boyz, then goes after D-Von. He misses a charge and walks into 3D at 10:03. Jericho pounds RVD down and chops away in the corner, but Rob moonsaults him for two. Orton comes in for the first time and misses a charge, but comes back with a nice clothesline out of the corner for two. He misses another charge (maybe he should stop charging) and RVD gets Rolling Thunder and pops up, but Jericho pushes him off the top, into an RKO at 12:06. D-Von goes next and gets a legdrop for two. Sideslam and flying headbutt get two. Jericho makes a blind tag but runs into D-Von on the way in, but comes back with a missile dropkick for two. He misses a charge and D-Von shoulderblocks him, but Jericho gets the Flashback at 13:50. So we’re 3-on-2, as Bubba charges and misses, but comes back with a sideslam for two. Shawn comes in for the first time and chops away in the corner to set up the pummeling, fighting off Christian, but Jericho trips him up and brings Orton back in, who gets two. Orton stomps away, but misses a dropkick (although he’s so tall that he caught Shawn in the mouth inadvertently), and tags abound. Bubba holds off the heels as Christian is legal, and he gets hotshot and backdropped for two. Bubba gets a samoan drop on Orton and Flips and Flops on Jericho, but can’t fly. Jericho goes low, and Christian hits the Unprettier for the pin at 16:50. So it’s Shawn 1-on-3, which is exactly how you want it – tough enough odds to make it unlikely he’ll win, but not so ridiculous that he can’t. Shawn fights off the heels and slugs Christian, but gets dumped, and this is where the match officially gets awesome, for those keeping track. The heels pound him outside and Orton takes over in the ring, stomping away. Christian works him over in the corner, but Shawn fights back, only to get dragged out of the ring by Jericho and catapulted into the post by Christian, drawing blood. And it’s a doozy, too. Crimson mask, stuck pig, pick your cliché. Christian suplexes him back in for two. He fights back but Christian goes for the Unprettier again, only to walk into a superkick and get pinned at 20:30, although Shawn basically just fell back on him by a fluke. Jericho tries next, beating the holy spirit out of Shawn in the corner, but he keeps fighting back. Jericho gets a clothesline for two. Orton pounds him down and chokes away, but walks into a sleeper. Orton suplexes out without too much trouble, and Jericho gets two off that. Shawn comes back with a DDT out of the corner, but he doesn’t have enough to make the cover. Finally he gets a hot two, but Orton saves. Shawn dumps him to take him out of the equation, and Jericho misses the Lionsault, and Shawn is still out. Shawn finally fights out, but misses the superkick and Jericho goes for the Walls, countered to the rollup for the pin at 23:56, leaving Shawn v. Orton. Jericho, sportsman, lays out Michaels with a chair afterwards. I hope Trish wasn’t watching. Orton pulls himself back into the ring and covers, but only gets two. Orton goes up and wipes out the referee as a result, so Shawn goes for the superkick. Bischoff runs in and kicks Shawn down, so Austin gets pissed off and stunners Orton. From here either result is equally likely, which is why it’s great booking, but they go the heel route, and Batista runs in, delivers a powerbomb to Michaels, and Orton ends Austin’s GM job at 27:27. This was great drama, with a superhuman effort from Shawn Michaels, and the great thing is that he was never booked like superman – he was booked as a guy getting his ass kicked who got two fluke pins and only would have won with the help of Austin, but the heels outsmarted Austin at his own game and Shawn lost the match. The match wasn’t much before the 3-on-1 sequence, but everything after was just amazing, Match of the Year Candidate level stuff from Michaels. **** Austin helps him up and I wait for the stunner, but none comes. He says his goodbyes and beats up Coach as I’m pressed for time and thus fast-forward. He’ll be back within a couple of weeks, either on RAW via a loophole or on Smackdown as the new GM, and I think we all know it. (2011 Scott sez: SHERIFF AUSTIN!)
– Buried Alive: Vince McMahon v. Undertaker.
Again I ask, how can this be Undertaker’s specialty when he’s never WON one of them? Taker punches Vince to start, and he immediately taps an artery, doing a sick, gory bladejob that immediately makes Shawn’s seem less special. Taker slugs away and Vince bleeds, and that’s pretty much all there is to the match. Taker crotches him on the post, and Vince bleeds. A lot. Over to the other side of the ring, and Vince gets posted again. Taker works on the leg, god knows why. Taker keeps slugging on the cut and chokes him out with the cable as Cole points out that it’s for the threats made against Taker’s wife. You know, in all fairness to Vince, Undertaker kidnapped and tried to rape Stephanie 4 years before Vince threatened to do the same to Sara Undertaker. Taker keeps pounding away as the match drags on, going nowhere, and they head back into the ring. Taker heads over to the grave and gets a STEEL shovel (see what I mean about shiny objects?) and nails Vince with it, unimpressively. Back to the floor, as Taker puts his ankle on the stairs and slams the other stair onto it. Hey, 1998 called, it wants its angles back. Is Undertaker in cahoots with Kane, too? (2011 Scott sez: Eventually, yes, I believe he was again.) Taker finally carries Vince over to the grave, but Vince throws dirt at him and goes low, his only offense for the match. He sends Taker into the grave, but Taker pulls him in and goes for the backhoe, but Kane’s pyro goes off, and Kane appears. Undertaker is apparently paralyzed with fear or something, and falls into the grave, allowing Kane to bring Vince out and Vince to get into the backhoe and drop the dirt on Undertaker at11:59. The finish was ridiculously anticlimactic and took forever to set up. And with all the deaths in wrestling this year, do we really need matches where the object is to bury your opponent in a fake grave, complete with tombstone? DUD No one stops to ask if Taker is still, say, alive, and we move on to the next match. I guess it was just symbolic burial.
– RAW World title: Goldberg v. HHH.
HHH is looking very bloated and out-of-shape. I mean, it’s really noticeable. Goldberg attacks him to start and gets a spear even before the bell, then goes after Flair too, and he dumps HHH. They brawl outside and HHH meets the stairs a few times and gets dropped on the railing. Back in, powerslam and Goldberg goes for a press slam, but the injured ankle gives way and HHH goes for it with a chop block. Goldberg gets tossed and HHH works the ankle with a chair and Flair posts the ankle, and they head back in for another chop block. HHH keeps stomping the ankle and Flair adds some cheapshots. Choking follows. Goldberg bails and Flair attacks the ankle, and they head back in, where HHH drops a knee on the ankle and goes to a half-crab. Goldberg is under the ropes, however. HHH tries to post him, but Goldberg powers off. HHH goes right back to the ankle again, but Goldberg comes out of the corner with a clothesline. He goes for another slam and HHH awkwardly escapes with another chop block, setting up a figure-four. Goldberg blocks and the ref is bumped as a result, so HHH gets some brass knux from Flair. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. HHH clocks Goldberg for two, and then elbowdrops the ref out of spite. He retrieves his trusty sledgehammer, but walks into a boot from Goldberg. Flair gets slammed off the top, as usual, and Goldberg fights them both off, but now the rest of Evolution comes in and gets sledged by Goldberg. HHH catches him with a Pedigree attempt, but Goldberg backdrops out, symbolically tosses down the hammer, and ops to finish with the spear and jackhammer instead at 11:41. Well, they sure booked him strong tonight, I’ll give ‘em that. Match wasn’t good or anything, but hopefully it helped Goldberg. If HHH really wants to be the bigger man, he’ll let himself get punked out by Orton tonight and then take his vacation to Hollywood. *1/2 (2011 Scott sez: C’mon, The Chaperone isn’t gonna make itself!)
The Bottom Line:
The booking and effort were strong, but there was too much talking and dead space in the middle, especially with matches involving people named McMahon, so even with Shawn’s miracle performance I can’t go any higher than thumbs in the middle.
With Undertaker,Austin, Rock and HHH all gone, however, the main event scene will be forced to push someone new for the first time since 1997. I guess that’ll be the real test. (2011 Scott sez: The guy they picked did OK for himself, at least, even if half the arena hates him at any one time.)